Impress all your friends with this complicated-looking bread that is actually quite simple to make. Bring it with you on your next picnic and follow it up with some homemade chocolate chip banana bread for dessert. If you’ve never baked with yeast before, this is one of the best recipes to start off with. The generous amount of pesto in this bread makes it juicy and delicious when it’s fresh out of the oven. I’d venture to say it even tastes better than garlic bread.

braided pesto loaf

Photo by Meher Pandher

Braided Pesto Loaf

  • Prep Time:1 hour active work, 3 hours for proofing
  • Cook Time:40 minutes
  • Total Time:About 5 hours
  • Servings:12
  • Medium


  • 3 - 3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pesto
Photo by Meher Pandher
  • Step 1

    Proof yeast by mixing together 1/4 cup warm water with sugar and yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until bubbles start to form.

    Photo by Meher Pandher
  • Step 2

    Mix together 2 1/2 cup flour and salt in large bowl.

    Photo by Meher Pandher
  • Step 3

    Mix together canola oil, remaining 1 cup water, yeast mixture, and balsamic vinegar in another bowl.

  • Step 4

    Slowly mix wet ingredients into dry. The resulting dough should be sticky and scraggly.

    Photo by Meher Pandher
  • Step 5

    Add more or less flour until dough becomes less sticky and is able to hold itself together.

    Photo by Meher Pandher
  • Step 6

    Put dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 3-4 hours until it doubles its initial size.

    Photo by Meher Pandher
  • Step 7

    Preheat oven to 400°F. Punch down dough and roll into a thin rectangular shape on a floured surface.

  • Step 8

    Spread the pesto onto the dough.

    Photo by Meher Pandher
  • Step 9

    Starting with one side, carefully and tightly roll the dough into a log.

    Photo by Meher Pandher
  • Step 10

    Cut the dough in half with a large knife. “Braid” the dough by continuously putting one-half over the other and twisting. The braiding is similar to the process shown here.

    Photo by Meher Pandher
  • Step 11

    Roll the braid around a midpoint (kind of like a snail or a cinnamon bun) and place in a circular pan.

    #SpoonTip: Don’t put too much pesto, otherwise it makes the dough difficult to braid.

    Photo by Meher Pandher
  • Step 12

    Bake dough at 400°F for 5-10 minutes. Bring temperature down to 350°F and bake for another 30 minutes.

    Photo by Meher Pandher